Carol Eiber, OFLA Immediate Past President
Those of us who work in teaching foreign languages emphasize the importance of knowing another language. We tell our students, and anyone who will listen, that there will be more opportunities open to them if they are proficient in another language. We encourage them to investigate careers in journalism, teaching, the diplomatic service, sales, management, environmental science, social services, international business, and so on. But have you ever encouraged your students to look into rubber engineering technology, as in tires?
Having grown up in a suburb of Akron, the Rubber Capital of the world, I am well aware of the importance of international business in the tire industry. I recently read an article in a trade magazine, Rubber World, where the editor, Don Smith, wrote about the opportunities for students in the rubber engineering technology program at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan. Evidently this very successful program has a near 100% employment rate at graduation but the school is having trouble attracting students. There are scholarships available and there is a plan that reduces out-of-state tuition yet enrollment is at its lowest point in years.
My advice to our members is to make your students aware of this opportunity in a field not often considered. By combining language study with tire technology, students have the chance to enter a line of work that will offer interesting work in a very essential industry. Tires are made here in the United States as well as in many countries around the world. As my husband is a tire engineer, I have seen first-hand the global importance of tire manufacturing. The rubber industry has provided him with the opportunity to reside overseas and to continue to travel abroad even though we live in Ohio now. The people who are involved with testing equipment and compounding, as well as engineering, all travel internationally for business and have a need to know other languages along with their specific technology.
For students with an aptitude for chemistry and/or engineering, encourage them to look into the opportunities for study and work in this industry. For starters, do a search for Ferris State University and University of Akron Polymer Science Program, then add “Tire Industry” to your list of careers involving foreign languages. It is truly a global industry where foreign language skills are used.